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Strikeforce adds Olympic Judoka to light heavyweight division

One of the MMA community’s top trainers will bring his bag of techniques to the Strikeforce ring in the coming weeks, as the company recently announced the signing of multi-time National Judo Champion and 2004 Olympian Dr. Rhadi Ferguson with a promotional debut scheduled for January 7 at an upcoming Strikeforce Challengers event in Nashville.

The 35-year old Ferguson holds a PhD in Education and has used his knowledge, as well as competitive experience, to train a number of high-level athletes in and out of MMA in a variety of areas including strength and conditioning. As a professional fighter he’s gone 2-0 thus far with two TKOs, though the change from Olympic Judoka to Mixed Martial Artist hasn’t been as smooth a process as one might think.

“I don’t think MMA is ever a natural transition,” Ferguson said. “I did Judo, I did BJJ, and I’m a strength and conditioning coach and a judo coach for some top MMA fighters. After training these guys for a while the sport caught me a little bit. I’m 35, but I feel like I still have some stuff in the tank. I’m satisfied with my athletic career but I wouldn’t mind putting the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title-belt on my mantel.”

“The thing about fighting is it makes me feel free,” Ferguson continued. “I think what I enjoy from MMA is the newness of it – it’s new to me and there’s so much to learn. When you become good at a sport like Judo you have core skills that you hone in on so much. You’re only focused on that. With MMA, there are so many things which you have to become proficient at. You don’t have to be good at everything but you’re proficiency has to be high to be a true Mixed Martial Artist.”

Ferguson’s opponent, Canadian prospect Ion Cherdivara, will also be making his Strikeforce debut at the January event. Though he may not have the Olympic credentials of Ferguson, Cherdivara certainly isn’t lacking any confidence in his abilities which have been refined as a former member of Moldova’s national wrestling team and impressive showings on the local scene.

“I’m only 1-0 because I’ve had a hard time finding fights in Montreal,” Cherdivara said. “No one wants to fight me. With Strikeforce I’ll finally be able to face some quality opponents who otherwise wouldn’t dare fight me. I’m looking to face the best light heavyweights Strikeforce has to offer.”

Joining the pair of debuting light heavyweights at Strikeforce Challengers 13, in co-headlining bouts, undefeated Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier will face Devin Cole in heavyweight action, while fellow rising star Tyron Woodley will also attempt to maintain his unblemished record when taking on Tarec Saffiedine. Additionally, workhorse Ovince St. Preux will go for his third win in Strikeforce since November 19 against striker Ron “Abongo” Humphrey.

  • Right on I always love to see an oft unused and unusual skill set coming to MMA. I dont think we have enough high level judokas due to their ineffectiveness in not being able to transition to MMA due to lack of a Gi….And this guy is not only a Judoka, but a BJJ practicioner and all around outstanding athelete, I like it. I like it alot.

  • cocoonofhorror says:

    Strikeforce LHW belt on your mantle?!!! get a grip dude, your 2-0.

  • Dufresne says:

    Potentially a great signing. Just kinda sad that the sport is just getting to the level to attract this kind of talent. If he had come to MMA 10 years ago that level of grappling could have made him world champ.

  • Angry Mike says:

    I have seen a fair number of judokas in Dream and Sengoku and they haven’t impressed me. There are some throws and trips that transfer to MMA, but judo isn’t an effective combat style for the octagon. If he’s facing a high level

  • Angry Mike says:

    Fracking hand held. If he’s facing a high level wrestler, he’ll get run over.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    My excitement changed to disappointment when I saw his age. He may well be the next big thing but like Drufense said, 25 would be so much better than 35.

  • Spoken says:

    judo can be very effective in mma when the proper methods are taken to adapt the skills to a no-gi setting. most judokas try to make the jump to mma underestimating how much the dynamics of judo change when used without a gi in a full-contact fight. before his problems, karo used his judo extremely effectively in the octagon. he used it to beat nick diaz, in fact. also akiyama uses it extremely well when he can drag himself away from the stand-up battles hes so fond of.

  • King Mo was all of 8-0 against cans and has beens when he took the SF title….Maybe this guy has the tricks up his sleeve. That’s the best part of this sport…I never expected King Mo to be a champ, I figured Brock was gonna take out Cain, I never thought I’d see Chael put a terrific beating on A. Silva..but its all happened let alone just within the last year.

  • Rece Rock says:

    the fact that this guy is kimbos cuz is mind boggeling.


    Will he fight more than twice a year on Challengers at best?-is the question


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